To Paleo or Not to Paleo?

What happens when the diet everyone says will work for you . . . doesn’t?

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Over the last two years I have developed a careful relationship with food. I’ve had to give up gluten and dairy (originally in order to recover from constant respiratory infections). This means no processed foods for the most part. I also consume vastly less sugar. It’s quite a change from my carb-heavy (and weighty) days of yore. I lost 100 lbs and five dress sizes. There have been other profound changes. If you’d like to know more, please ask in comments.

Foods still included in my diet that were not Paleo were white potatoes, soy, popcorn, beans, lentils and rice. I did eat GF breads on occasion, but am just as happy without them.

My partner and I decided to undertake a Paleo challenge to improve overall body composition. I expected this shift to be easy. Food-wise, it was. Unfortunately it completely upset the happy balance I had achieved with my digestive system. I have been extremely physically uncomfortable with highly unpleasant gut pain since undertaking Paleo. You might argue that I’m doing it wrong-too much fat, not enough fat, too much fiber, not enough fiber–but the truth is I put a lot of time and research into our meal plans including snacks. I have read multiple Paleo food and lifestyle books and blogs. I was prepared for this, and shifts one way or another week over week made no positive impact.

So, I began to reintroduce the foods I cut out. It took about three days for my body to turn around. I’m still struggling. If I weren’t 100% sure it isn’t the case, I would think I’ve been eating gluten. Gluten causes extreme brain fog for me. I haven’t had any of that. I just hurt and feel sick to my stomach all the time.

And this doesn’t even touch trying to budget for a family of five to eat within a Paleo plan.

Here’s the thing, friends (esp GF friends): Paleo can be a much better way to eat for most of you. It cuts out processed food and sugars. It does not mean eating only meat. You should be eating more vegetation than meats, and I have heard of Paleo vegetarians who stick with nuts and seeds, fruits and veggies (which makes more sense than the meat-at- every-meal version I see many friends practicing–after all, meat was a sometimes good , not a staple in the Paleolithic era). I want to be clear this is not a vilification of the Paleo diet. I will still post Paleo recipes just as I share GF or dairy-filled recipes. However , if you have already achieved gut health through an elimination diet, don’t mess with your food choices. We all have different eating needs. There is no one “right” plan for everyone. If you are concerned about weight loss, add exercise–especially weight-bearing exercise.

And this post doesn’t even touch the prohibitive task of budgeting for a family of five. If you thought gluten-free eating hiked up your bill. . .

For me, I suspect walnuts were a major player in my gastric distress, but I can’t be sure. Everything went to heck within a week of Paleo eating, and I hadn’t introduced walnuts at that time. After their introduction, though, I experienced a new kind of intestinal pain.

Since recovery isn’t new to me, I’m comfortably on the road. I’m sad to say goodbye to Paleo in a way–for a long time I saw it as the only possible answer. Yes, that was short-sighted and ego-centric, but it’s also a very American way of thinking. Fortunately, pre-Paleo, my goal of healthy eating was already met. I’m happy to get back to it.

What are your experiences with #Paleo eating? What other elimination diets have you tried? Why did you try them? What was the outcome?

The Docks Episode 5

In the mood for a post-apocalyptic SF/F web-serial? Click here for previous episodes of The Docks

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When my eyes had searched back over the dunes, I’d thought it impossible we’d find the Jeep again. The sun was pushing up at the darkness, but the Jeep was nowhere in sight. I stood holding onto Helene’s shoulders, still trembling from my out of body experience combined with the horror of finding Alan after all. I dismissed the thought that all this time, our bonfires had been built from human bodies.

“We’re taking him with us,” Helene said.

I wanted to argue that this was his grave, but Alan was whole if not lifelike in his petrified state. Glossy, tinted purple, slick as glass. His hair was parted to one side as if it had never been out of place, despite a screaming, flailing fall into the unknown. His face was peaceful. Happy, almost. I bent to look closer. Helene’s back shifted and blocked my view. I tried to make sense of the rush of emotion she was trying to hide. She was recomposing the expression on her face. Possessive. She was filled with fire and hate. I stepped backward.

“Of course we’ll take him with us. I’m just trying to figure out how.”

As if something were listening, the sand began to rise beneath us. Helene threw her arms around Alan, trying to find purchase so he wouldn’t slide from her grip. I threw my arms around her. We rode the shifting dunes back toward our fire. I could see it burning, a small dot in the lightning distance, and there was Helene’s Jeep.

“What’s happening?” she shouted.

“I don’t know.”

The motion stopped near our fire, some sand snuffing it out. Helene cradled Alan’s head. I turned to watch dunes ripple in and out of existence until whatever had carried us was back home in the seabed. I wanted to shout after it. “What are you?” Maybe, “Thank you, but why?” Why had it given us Alan, delivered us and him back to the Jeep? I saw the twin stars again in my mind. The glow was controlled and furious. I felt the mystery calling to me, calling through me. I was certain I was necessary for some goal, but I felt intermediary. “What do you want?” I was shouting.

“I want to go home! Let’s just go, Bria. Thank you for coming with me. I don’t want you to tell me what happened out there. There was . . . something.” She shivered. “Something you did. I know that. But whatever you did, I know you weren’t trying to hurt me.” She shivered again, making me aware of the physical pain she was feeling. It had been hidden until now.

Wait, what was she saying? Helene knew about our bond, but she wasn’t sure what it was. She wanted me to explain, but first-

“ . . . home,” she was saying. “Can you drive us? Bria?”

I took the keys. We’d have to make time to get there before daylight. And there was Sheriff to get past.

We loaded Alan in the car, flat on his back, stretched out as he was. We had to tip the front seat down.

Helene sat in the back, her hand over one of his.

“Are you in there, Alan?” she was saying. “It’s almost like you’re in there. I know it’s silly, but, are you?”

I saw her hand play over his face. She trailed her fingertips over his throat, the love plain on her face and fractured heart. When her tears began to fall, I kept my eyes on the road. I needed to focus. I gripped the steering wheel, reweaving the shield as I blinked rapidly against tears of my own.

On Growing as a Writer (and an announcement)

I woke up this morning to find a pitch rejection in my inbox. This was happy because the rejection was expected, but not within four hours of submission. I expected to wait 2-3 weeks for any response. I can’t take the immediate rejection as an insult because, while the pitched piece is strong, the essay walks just over the line of what this magazine publishes. I was well aware of that, having done my research first by reading their published pieces. What I said to myself was, “It can be shaped.” Also, I had a plan for where to submit next. I will enact that plan today.

It’s lovely to develop a professional relationship with my work and its acceptance /rejection. In 2008 I was just growing myself as a professional writer. Post-partum depression and PTSD derailed that process. I am beginning again on completely new themes with three children who are my full-time responsibility.

It is difficult every day not to see a paycheck–not to have a numeric compensation for this work I do. I could sit and estimate what I save us per annum by remaining at home and fully accessible to my children’s needs, but that value is one reflected in small successes.

Truly, launching oneself as a writer is the same, especially in the game of Nonfiction. While I do have the option of donation on this blog (PayPal on the sidebar) and would love that personal recognition, for me it is equal to a comment or a share. (Please comment! Please share! Follow me on Twitter and retweet my work! I seriously squee with joy for each of these actions, AND I take the time to respond personally.) As for writing outside this blog, monetary compensation will be minimal for quite some time, I expect. I will plug away.

Currently I am in a space of consideration of what to safely share. I have a backlog of essays exploring events and themes I cannot be certain I want to own as me. Writing should not be safe, but we must still protect ourselves–a topic we will in my local writing workshop, Writing Through Trauma. You can now sign up here. (Please Overlook the misspelling of my name. This is a brand new page for Unity and we are working together to sort out the links.) The class runs Mondays, 6-8 PM from January 19-March 9. I will post course details soon. For now, know that Winter is coming. You can use it to examine those thoughts not quite sleeping.